Urban Farm and Food Hub in Phoenix, Arizona
Working with Cultivate South Phoenix (CUSP), SCALE developed a business plan to help guide their efforts to launch and operate a 14 acre urban farm in a working class and lower income neighborhood of South Phoenix. The project is designed to build farming and entrepreneurial skills for a small group of urban farmers, while significantly improving access to healthy food in this community. Nic de La Fuente, the Project Manager, has woven together the skills and resources of a diverse array of organizations, including the Desert Botanical Garden, regional food banks, St Vincent DePaul Society and St Mary's (regional food bank operations), a number of human service and skill building agencies, and community gardens and small organic farms. One of the challenges this project presented was helping CUSP develop a strategy that could address its core mission of improved food access and empowerment of marginalized people, while also creating good opportunities for small farmers, and an operation that could become largely self-sustaining. Thus the plan included an assessment of production and revenue potential from the land, known as the Seeds of Opportunity farm, infrastructure and support needs for newer, limited resource farmers, challenges related to soil quality and water availability at the site, and the potential for aggregation of produce from other farms in future years. Core to the plan was an assessment of a diverse market mix, ranging from workplace CSAs in Phoenix to institutional buyers serving lower income people. CUSP is working to launch the farm in 2016.